Second-years are building community and discovering campus

Sarah Lopes Sadafi
September 30, 2021
Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

C/O Yoohyun Park

As McMaster returns to in-person learning, second-year students are creating their communities in their own wa

Plain and simple, the 2020-2021 year was a hard year to enter university. In the time spent attending university from the comfort of our childhood bedrooms, staying connected had new barriers for everyone. For students entering their second year, meeting others took on a whole new form as they built connections and community for themselves through Zoom and Instagram DMs last year. After far too long, students now entering their second-year of university studies are finally able to return to campus, slowly but surely. 

Although finding your community has its barriers in an online setting, the class of 2024 did their best with the resources available to them. Ibreez Asaria, a student entering his second year of health sciences, commented on what the process of building community looked like for him.

“In terms of first year being online, it was hard to really develop meaningful connections and meaningful communities. Overall I’d say it was a process that required time and effort in first year and a lot of us were dealing with other challenges, whether it be mental health or time constraints or geography,” explained Asaria.

Now, all getting to explore campus together for the first time, it can also be said second-years are finding a sense of community in this joint dysphoria and excitement using Google Maps to no end, getting lost on the way to the library, discovering favourite food and study spots; the second-years are fumbling through this weird time together.

"In first year, we faced the challenge of adapting to the university workload and online learning. Now, in second year, we face a different challenge—adapting to the university environment and hybrid-style learning. But this challenge is one that we're happy to face because it's made the university experience that much more fulfilling . . . Everything is familiar, yet unfamiliar in a way. But we all get to experience this unfamiliarity together and I think that really brings out that sense of community within our second-year cohort," said Jessica Ho, a second-year arts and science student.

One year following their Welcome Week conducted completely online, the university welcomed second-year students with a Second-Year Welcome day. The announcement that second-years would have some kind of in-person welcome was announced by the McMaster Student Success Center in late July, stirring up excitement amongst the second-year students. In late August confirmation arrived that Second-Year Welcome would, indeed, occur as everyone was hoping.

Second-Year Welcome was an opportunity for second-years to build the in-person community and connections they’d found online. They had high expectations, especially following the first years’ Welcome Week this year. 

However, students were only able to sign up for their Second-Year Welcome events through OscarPlus a mere two days before it was scheduled to happen, and the rest of the registration process wasn’t exactly smooth.

“[Second-Year Welcome] started out a little tricky, signing up for events and not getting into them. Then your friends didn’t get into events and you could see them disappointed or stressed out on the day-of because they didn’t get into any of the events that you did. It put a damper on things but it was nice just to see people in-person at all,” explained Armaan

Kotadia, a second-year Health Sciences student.

Despite the technical difficulties, students were excited for the opportunity to finally arrive on campus and experience everything they missed in first year. 

Students showed up to their morning events—rock climbing, tours of campus and the David Braley Athletic Center and more—with high spirits and an excitement to experience life on campus for the first time. 

“Having that excitement of knowing that I can finally meet pretty much everyone I’ve been seeing on these Zoom calls was really cool, even despite COVID-19 regulations. I finally put a face to peoples’ profile pictures and it made me feel like part of that little close-knit family community within my program,” said Kotadia.

“We shared jokes and conversations about classes; talked about professors we really enjoyed. It was a really intimate, familial sort of feeling,” said Asaria. 

Although Second-Year Welcome had its ups and downs, students left feeling satisfied in the experiences offered to them. 

“I think after [Second-Year Welcome] I finally felt comfortable in Hamilton for the first time, whereas before I was still adjusting. [Second-Year Welcome] was like the final step before thinking ‘yeah, this is my new home-away-from-home’ . . . It helped me feel ready to start school more prepared because I felt like I had that support network,” explained Kotadia.

After a year of patiently waiting for a proper welcome, Second-Year Welcome didn’t quite make up for the in-person Welcome Week experience they missed, but it helped in the second-years’ transition back to campus. Finally able to experience university life to its fullest, the class of 2024 is building community both in-person and online in this hybrid year, their own way.

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